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Quinn Not Backing Down On Income Tax Hike

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CHICAGO (AP) -- Gov. Pat Quinn says he's willing to compromise to get a state budget, but he held firm Friday to his proposal to increase Illinois' income tax rate even though lawmakers have indicated it doesn't have the necessary support to pass.

With the clock ticking to get a new budget before the legislative session ends May 31, Quinn said backing off his proposed 50 percent increase in the income tax rate isn't a good idea.

"I don't think that's a prudent idea if we're going to pay the bills. We have to raise enough money in order to make sure that Illinois is not a delinquent state when it comes to its financial obligations," Quinn said outside a school on Chicago's southwest side.

Quinn has proposed raising the income tax rate from 3 percent to 4.5 percent to help fill an $11.6 billion budget hole. He wants to reduce the sting by upping personal exemptions, a move that would especially reduce the impact on poor and working class families.

Anyone who wants a smaller increase in the income tax rate, Quinn said, needs to come up with another way to pay the bills.

"To just wring your hands and say, 'Woe is me,' is not an option. Inaction, lack of action is not an option," he said.

It will be no easy task for Quinn to get the increase passed.

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, a fellow Chicago Democrat, has said there isn't enough support for Quinn's budget proposal as is. Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno wants to first consider budget cuts and government efficiencies.

Another GOP lawmaker, state Sen. Matt Murphy of Palatine said Friday he doesn't think the Democratic lawmakers who control the General Assembly want to cut the budget to avoid an income tax increase.

"The Democrats in the Legislature, I don't believe, have the appetite to do the cutting," Murphy said.

Murphy said there has been discussion in Springfield about using earned income tax credits to reduce the impact on poor and working class families instead of an across-the-board increase in personal exemptions. That way, the income tax rate increase could be smaller but still collect as much new revenue as Quinn wants.

Either option, Murphy said, could drive employers out of Illinois.

"That tax hike's going to cost people their job," Murphy said.

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